On November 5, 2014, the Trail Town Program held its first annual Fall Summit in Oil City, PA at the Days Inn Oil City Conference Center. Over 45 members from various communities and businesses along the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail System attended the conference, including, Titusville, Oil City, Franklin, Emlenton, and Foxburg. The conference started off with a presentation regarding the benefits and impact a trail of this magnitude can have on the region. Deb Frawley, the Greenways Coordinator for the region, emphasized experiencing the trail as if you were an outsider in the region so you have the ability to understand the perspective of a trail user. She also suggested following their YouTube channel for information about benefits of the trail and attracting trails users into your town. From further discussion it was concluded that there needs to be better communication among the communities along the trail for everyone to be successful and benefit from trail users.
Following lunch, Courtney Mahronich, one of the Trail Town Outreach Fellows, gave an update on the Trail Town Certified Network. Along the Erie to Pittsburgh trail there are14 new members and 11 more current applicants! The Erie to Pittsburgh Trail is surely catching up with the 46 members along the Great Allegheny Passage. This is a great accomplishment for the region and the network is continuing to grow. The next aspect of the presentation was to present organizations and business some minor changes that they can make to impact their energy conservation. Further discussion also unveiled that recycling pickup is desired but lacking in many communities. The Trail Town Program will be working with the communities to hopefully find a solution to this issue.
As the Erie-To-Pittsburgh system is growing out of its early stages, trail groups and businesses find marketing the region and trail as a tourist destination of increasing interest. Hope Lineman of Venango College, Grace Markum of High Impact, and Paul Fireman of Fireman Creative, three marketing experts, presented to the group. All suggested that the Erie to Pittsburgh trail needs to create a unique message for the people that they are trying to attract. Hope Lineman suggested finding creative ways to get your message out there through merchandise advertising. It is a way to reach markets your would not normally reach. Grace Markum suggested publicity stunts, as a method of guerilla marketing, as a way to draw attention to the region. One example she gave was a hotel chain playing off the Batman movies filming in Pittsburgh, and had a man dressed as Batman came to each hotel. Paul Fireman stressed the importance of social media. He shared that currently about 70% of the country utilized some form of social media, whether that is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or many others. Social Media is a low or no cost tool that business and organizations can use to reach and create a personal connection with a large audience.
Attendees of the Erie to Pittsburgh Fall Trail Town summit were able to learn about the importance of the trail, sustainability, and marketing their region and businesses. The Erie to Pittsburgh Trail region will be able to continue to push forward to make their region an ideal tourist destination for recreational tourists.
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